The Michelin Guide has become almost as iconic as French cuisine itself, serving as a comprehensive tastemaker today. However, did you know that its original purpose in 1900 was much simpler? In other words, it was designed to boost local tourism by highlighting hotels and restaurants that would attract motorists, even if it meant wearing out their tires in the process. What was its purpose? The guidebook awarded stars and soon, it established the famous criteria for the ratings. One star denotes a very good restaurant, two stars signify excellent cooking, and three stars represent a restaurant that offers stellar cuisine, worth a special journey. These ratings have become linked with gastronomy ever since.
Unfortunately, the pandemic brought about a period of disruption to the esteemed guide, but even before that, there were changes. For example, in 2019, Auberge de L’ill lost its third star after maintaining it for 51 years, and last year, Paul Bocuse's L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges was downgraded. This trend has continued into this year. However, there was also positive news for other restaurants. So, if you’re planning a journey in France this year, below is the list of France's Michelin three-star restaurants for 2023!
Alléno Pavillon Ledoyen, Paris
Dating back to 1842, Pavillon Ledoyen has deep roots in Parisian history, having been originally erected in the gardens of the Champs-Elysées. While the upstairs dining room still features the original painted moldings and ceiling, chef Yannick Alléno brings a contemporary approach to the historic venue, earning it a third Michelin star. Alléno's signature technique for making sauces involves extracting liquids from ingredients and then reducing them using an innovative method that combines sub-zero temperatures and centrifugal force. Diners can savor the fruits of this technique in dishes like a dessert.
Am par Alexandre Mazzia, Marseille
Chef Alexandre Mazzia's namesake restaurant draws inspiration not only from the local produce and seafood of France's Cote d'Azur but also from beyond its home in Marseille. With just 24 seats, this restaurant showcases influences from Mazzia's upbringing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where he spent the first 14 years of his life, as well as his previous career as a professional basketball player. Since opening in 2014, the restaurant quickly earned its first Michelin star. Mazzia has gained a reputation in the culinary world for his unique and globally-inspired dishes.
Assiette Champenoise, Tinqueux
After studying under culinary icons like Roger Vergé and Michel Guérard, Lallement took over in 1998. He earned L'Assiette its second Michelin star in 2005 and it's third in 2014. The menu features classic dishes such as grated foie gras served over toast, as well as unique and innovative dishes like milk-fed veal sweetbreads. the chef always emphasizes the pure flavors of the ingredients with a perfect balance of acidity. As expected in the region, the restaurant also boasts an extensive champagne cellar with more than a thousand options to complement your meal.
In 1986, Alain Passard took over Alain Senderens’ restaurant Archestrate intending to fill his mentor’s shoes. The restaurant was renamed Arpège, a nod to Passard’s love of music, and its original name. In 1996, Arpège received its third Michelin star, a distinction it has maintained ever since, even after transitioning to a plant-based menu in 2001. Guests can still savor Passard's signature dishes, such as the famous l’arpège egg, a hot-cold, hard-soft-boiled amuse-bouche that has inspired tributes at fine dining establishments around the world.
Georges Blanc, Vonnas
Georges Blanc and his restaurant have become a mainstay of French cuisine, having held three Michelin stars for 38 consecutive years. Although Blanc honed his skills in restaurants both in France and overseas, including a period as a military cook, it is difficult not to attribute some of his talents to his family's culinary legacy. Did you know that his grandmother was once named the "best cook in the world" by a food writer?
La Vague d’Or, Saint-Tropez
Arnaud Donckele, with an impressive resume that includes apprenticeships at Alain Ducasse and Michel Guérard's kitchens, achieved three Michelin Stars by the age of 35. At La Vague d'Or, guests can choose from three tasting menus, including a five-course vegetarian option. Additionally, there are two à la carte menus: one showcasing land-inspired dishes and another featuring seafood-inspired creations, which guests can savor while enjoying the view of the nearby sea from the restaurant's umbrella-lined terrace.